Happy Women’s Day to my fellow strong, beautiful women. This year I would like to share an an insight into the significance of this day in South Africa.
On 9 August 1956, more than 20 000[ South African women of all races staged a march on the Union Buildings in protest against the proposed amendments to the Urban Areas Act of 1950, commonly referred to as the “pass laws”. The march was led by Lilian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa and Sophia Williams.
The women left bundles of petitions containing more than 100 000 signatures at the office doors of Prime Minister J.G. Strijdom. The women stood silently for 30 minutes, singing a protest song that was composed in honour of the occasion: Wathint’Abafazi Wathint’imbokodo! (Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock.).
In the 54 years since, the phrase (or its latest incarnation: “you strike a woman, you strike a rock”) has come to represent women’s courage and strength in South Africa.
The bravery of these women has contributed to change in South Africa and we still have many more concerns that need to be addressed by South African women today.
We must fight on for equality, security and access to basic services for all South Africans.
I ask you today as Women : are you contributing to ensuring that our daughters are strong women?
One woman can make a difference, but together we are a force so powerful, we can achieve greatness. My message to you is to acknowledge your strengths and beauty and let us encourage and support each other more.